You are very welcome to comment on this blog.

Please feel free to comment on the posts on this blog, it's great getting feedback and suggestions, and to know someone is out there reading this stuff! so please introduce yourselves...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Hobbies Falco Subbuteo.

Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting up with a friend Robin Khan. Robin is a very accomplished bird watcher and has a passion for Raptors luckily for me and it was a great experience to be alongside his expert eye. Originally we had planned to go to a good spot that Robin knows of on the Somerset levels to watch the influx of Hobbies, Falco Subbuteo. These elegant small falcons come to our shores and breed here for the summer. For the last half of the year they have been wintering in Africa but now they are back and it’s always with huge expectation that I and many others like Robin are out on warm summer days hoping to see their dashing flights at emerging Dragon Flies. Unfortunately because of the low pressure weather system we had over us in the early part of May their influx into the country has been a bit sporadic and we missed the opportunity to see them in Somerset. So we headed to another little hot spot here in Devon. The RSPB own an Area of Marshes near the Exe Estuary and its one of the first stop off points for some of our Hobbies and many other summer migrants. I met up with Robin at his home and we then made the short journey to the marshes, it was already warming considerably by now and when we arrived we wasted no time in searching. We quickly spotted a falcon half way up one of the pylons that cross the marsh. We then headed down the edge of the Canal towards Turf Locks Hotel. Looking out westward across the marsh we picked out several Hobbies quite high up already hawking insects on the rising air. The wind was pushing us away from us unfortunately and we decided to walk on down towards the locks and return a bit later in the day to see if they would be at a lower level when the air cooled. There was plenty to keep me occupied. Sedge warblers sang from every reedy patch of scrub that lined the foot path. Now my warbler identification skills are a little on the rusty side and so I asked Robin for his advice which of the warblers I was hearing. In due course I was now able to tell the difference between the scratchy sounding Sedge Warbler and the explosive loud metallic notes of the skulking Cetti’s Warbler and the much more subtle Reed Warbler. Not too long after we were to hear the call of the warblers nemesis the Cuckoo! Although we never saw him. Shelduck pairs passed by us heading into the Marsh pools where they fed alongside Canada geese and a host of Gulls de salting themselves in the fresh water. Herons drifted in and the peace was disturbed by piping calls of pairs of Oyster catchers heading down the canal towards the rich mud flats at the Turf Locks. As the heat started to eat into us we decided to take a break at the turf locks hotel and have a drink and take a look out across the estuary. Whilst there we saw, a rather Late Whimbrel feeding on his own and small groups of Dunlin in breeding plumage were feeding alongside Ringed Plovers. An Egret fished the shallows out in front near the old boat wreck that has been there for years slowly dissolving into the silt of the estuary. As the time past we headed back down the path way hoping to see yet more Hobbies. The sedge and Cetti’s continued to chorus from the margins of reeds and Bramble. On the y way we chatted of the Peregrines recovery. And how Robin in 1971 the year I was born could only find one tiercel on the whole of the Devon coast! What a turn around its been. We soon were back at the small car park and decided to move over to the west side of the reserve as the wind was blowing the insects that way and Robin felt that we would have more luck seeing the hobbies over there. Sure enough we got some good views of them coming our way and of a Peregrine sat in the Pylon that we originally saw a Falcon. Chances are it was him all Along! Robin had seen this falcon take a young Canada goose, gosling a few days earlier and take it to the same pylon to eat it! The Hobbies unfortunately never really gave us the views that we wanted and we decided after a while to head home. Robin Felt that on days like this if they can stock up early of food they will carry on their migration. Hopefully we will see more through the summer and then when they gather to leave our shores for the epic journey south to Africa.


Mike Woodcock said...

Great account of what sounds like an ideal day. Thanks for the colour change by the way, much easier on the eye!

Andrew Ellis said...

Hi Mike, glad you like the post, and that you are finding the colour change better.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin